You cannot ‘be still’/ how to be still

full-moon

‘Be still’ (ie. Nididhyasana) or natural stillness (ie. Samadhi), and the eternal peace of mind/end of suffering that seemingly emerge from that (ie. Moksha) – these are not something you do or create, or necessarily need to strive to practice. They can be a natural outcome of insight into the experiential truths of ‘no-doer’ (both in ‘yourself’ and in ‘others’) and ‘nothing else needed’ or ‘nothing to get’.

Similarly, insight is not something you have to do or achieve or create. It is a natural outcome of listening to the teachings (ie. Sravana) and contemplating them in a (relatively) clear and quiet mind (ie. Manana).

Therefore listen to the teachings, remember them, relax, and let the mind contemplate them unhurriedly. The teachings need time and space to blossom and bloom. 🌿🌼🌷

Seeking out teachings to listen to, actually listening to them and subsequently contemplating them is not something you do or chose to do or ever did. It is a natural outcome of a desire to end suffering (ie. Mumukshutva) together with having heard the notion or possibility that suffering can end (ie. Hearing about the concept of enlightenment or liberation). These factors naturally and automatically lead to seeking a teaching/teacher.

The desire to end suffering is not something you have created or ever ‘done’. It is the natural consequence of and intelligent response to suffering.

This is all spontaneous action and response. No doer entity or separate entity doing, authoring or creating anything.

Suffering is not something you chose to happen, or something you have created/caused. It is a natural consequence of living life with concepts of ignorance deeply rooted into the body-mind.

Hearing about the notion or possibility that suffering can end is not something you chose to hear. It is a consequence of God’s Grace.

Ignorance was not something you chose. It too was and is God’s Grace.

All this, one could say, is God’s Grace, unfolding beautifully. It is the way it is. What is is what is.

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New video: Concepts vs. Silence

This video gives a summary of how the teachings often work, and explains about conceptual teachings and contrasts this to Silence. It also speaks of whether or not a teacher is required at all.

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Does stillness of mind lead to liberation?

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Advaita Bodha Deepika is a traditional text and a masterpiece, summarising the methods and techniques of advaita vedanta. It was a favourite text of Sri Ramana Maharshi and was often recommended by him. Here is what it says about how to attain liberation, the following is from Chapter 3:

17…Master: With complete stillness of mind, samsara will disappear root and branch. Otherwise there will be no end to samsara, even in millions of aeons (Kalpakotikala).

18. Disciple: Cannot samsara be got rid of by any means other than making the mind still?

M: Absolutely by no other means; neither the Vedas, nor the shastras nor austerities, nor karma, nor vows, nor gifts, nor recital of scriptures of mystic formulae (mantras), nor worship, nor anything else, can undo the samsara. Only stillness of mind can accomplish the end and nothing else.

19. D: The scriptures declare that only Knowledge can do it. How then do you say that stillness of the mind puts an end to samsara?

M: What is variously described as Knowledge, Liberation, etc., in the scriptures, is but stillness of mind.

D: Has any one said so before?

20 M: Sri Vasishta had said…


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Beloved Ramana Maharshi says the same in Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 141:

All the jnana* scriptures that teach the way to redemption proclaim in unison that restraining and stilling the mind is the best means for liberation. This is also emphasised by jnanis*.

If, after a certain amount of study, one knows this to be the inner purport of the scriptures, one should then direct ones whole effort towards that [practice]. What is the use of continuously studying more and more scriptures without doing this?

*Jnana, literally meaning knowledge, refers to the teachings of spiritual liberation, whereas jnani, literally ‘knower’, refers to the spiritually liberated sage.

 


In Ramana’s ‘Who am I?’, the question as to the nature of Jnana arises and is simply answered:

Questioner: What is wisdom-insight (jnana-drsti)?

Ramana Maharshi: Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight.


The Katha Upanishad states the same, in verse 2.3.10:

When the five organs of perception become still, together with the mind, and the intellect ceases to be active: that is called the Supreme State [Brahman].

 


The Amritabindu Upanishad equates the controlled/stilled mind with Jnana (knowledge) and liberation:

2. It is indeed the mind that is the cause of men’s bondage and liberation. The mind that is attached to sense-objects leads to bondage, when unattached from sense-objects it tends to lead to liberation. So they [the sages] say.

3. Since liberation is based on the mind devoid of desire for sense objects, therefore, the mind should always be made free of such desire, by the seeker after liberation.

4. When the mind, with its attachment for sense-objects annihilated, is fully controlled within the heart and thus realises its own essence, then that is the Supreme State (Brahman is gained).

5. The mind should be controlled so that it becomes merged in the heart. This is Jnana (knowledge) and this is Dhyana (meditation). All else is argumentation and verbiage.


The Advaitic giant, Sri Gaudapada, (Shankara’s guru’s guru) writes in his Mandukya Karika:

The controlled mind is verily the fearless Brahman’ Chapter 3, verse 35

And in verse 37 of the same chapter he writes:

[Atman is] beyond all expression by words and beyond all acts of mind; It is all peace, eternal effulgence free from activity and fear and attainable by samadhi’ Chapter 3, verse 37


Also see:

The key to nonduality and yoga

The ‘ultimate means’ to liberation

Ramana Maharshi: be still

Ramana Maharshi: a quick and simple method to self-realisation

False enlightenment

Q. Does liberation even exist? If it’s here and now, why don’t I experience it?

Q. Hey Tom. I had one question to ask, if you don’t mind. Is Mukti (liberation) even there? Is there something called Liberation? If it’s there here and now, why don’t I feel it? And when it should be the most obvious thing, that is my own existence, why don’t I experience it, or rather recognize it? And what is the purpose of the world if it exists but doesn’t exist. A complete paradox, isn’t it?

Tom: Liberation just means removal of wrong ideas/what is false. Nothing is gained, mistakes are lost. Make sense?

Q. Yes. I’m on the same page. But if it’s so evident, why am I missing it?

Tom: Who says you are missing it? The mind?

Q. Yes

Tom. Why believe the mind? Be still my friend ❤

Q. So belief is the reason for all misery, isn’t it?

Tom: Bondage is an illusion of the mind only. Bondage = suffering.

Q. Be still and know that I’m God. But I know this well, I experience it, sometimes. But when problems arise, I’m carried away with it. How to recollect the Self always?

Tom: Practice.

Q. What is the best way of practicing this? Apart from Self-enquiry?

Tom: See here:

https://tomdas.com/2018/06/24/spiritual-liberation-some-essential-instructions/

Or here:

https://tomdas.com/2018/06/13/letting-go-of-liberation/

Or here:

https://tomdas.com/2018/05/05/the-natural-path-to-the-natural-state/

Q. Okay. I will read it. But liberation itself is an idea that I have to let go to completely enjoy bliss, isn’t it?

Tom: Have a read 🙂

<Sometime later>

Q. Thanks. It was a great read. 🙂🙏🏻

 

 

Jiddu Krishamurti: Silence, the Still Mind, Meditation

Krishnamurti young

I’ve compiled a few quotes by J. Krishnamurti on the subject of silence/stillness, and I’ve broadly arranged them so the initial quotes are more introductory and the latter quotes expand on the depth and subtleties of the teachings. Are we not blessed to have such teachings available to us? I hope you find these of use to you, with love and best wishes:

What lies beyond can be found only if the mind is still. There may be something or there may be nothing at all. So the only thing that is important is for the mind to be still.

What lies beyond can be found only if the mind is still…the only thing that is important is for the mind to be still.

Again, if you are concerned with what lies beyond, then you are not looking at what the state of actual stillness is. If stillness to you is only a door to that which lies beyond, then you are not concerned with that door, whereas what is important is the very door itself, the very stillness itself.

Therefore you cannot ask what lies beyond. The only thing that is important is for the mind to be still. Then what takes place? That is all we are concerned with, not with what lies beyond silence.

Eight Conversations


When you realize that there is no method, no system, no mantra, no teacher, nothing in the world that is going to help you to be quiet, when you realize the truth that it is only the quiet mind that sees, then the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet.

…it is only the quiet mind that sees…

It is like seeing danger and avoiding it. In the same way, seeing that the mind must be completely quiet, it is quiet.

Now, the quality of silence matters. A very small mind can be very quiet, it has its little space in which to be quiet; that little space, with its little quietness, is the deadest thing – you know what it is.

In that silence there is no observer at all.

But a mind that has limitless space and that quietness, that stillness, has no center as the ‘me’, the observer, is quite different. In that silence there is no observer at all. That quality of silence has vast space, it is without border and intensely active; the activity of that silence is entirely different from the activity which is self-centered.

If the mind has gone that far (and really it is not that far, it is always there if you know how to look), then perhaps that which man has sought throughout the centuries – God, truth, the immeasurable, the nameless, the timeless – is there.

…it is always there if you know how to look…

Without your invitation, it is there.

The Flight of the Eagle


There is no other fact but silence which has not been invited, induced, sought after, but which is the natural outcome of observation and of understanding oneself and the world about one. In this there has been no motive which has brought silence. If there is any shadow or suspicion of a motive, then that silence is directed and deliberate, so it is not silence at all.

If there is any shadow or suspicion of a motive, then that silence is directed and deliberate, so it is not silence at all.

If you can honestly say that that silence is free, then what actually takes place in that silence is our only concern. What is the quality and the texture of that silence? Is it superficial, passing, measurable? Are you aware of it after it is over, or during the silence? If you are aware that you have been silent, then it is only a memory, and therefore dead. If you are aware of the silence while it is happening, then is it silence?

Eight Conversations


If you have followed this inquiry into what is meditation, and have understood the whole process of thinking, you will find that the mind is completely still. In that total stillness of the mind, there is no watcher, no observer, and therefore no experiencer at all; there is no entity who is gathering experience, which is the activity of a self-centred mind.

In that total stillness of the mind, there is no watcher, no observer, and therefore no experiencer at all; there is no entity who is gathering experience, which is the activity of a self-centred mind.

Don’t say, “That is samadhi”, which is all nonsense, because you have only read of it in some book and have not discovered it for yourself. There is a vast difference between the word and the thing. The word is not the thing; the word door is not the door.

So, to meditate is to purge the mind of its self-centered activity. And if you have come this far in meditation, you will find there is silence, a total emptiness.

The mind is uncontaminated by society; it is no longer subject to any influence, to the pressure of any desire. It is completely alone, and being alone, untouched, it is innocent.

So, to meditate is to purge the mind of its self-centered activity…you will find there is silence, a total emptiness…The mind is uncontaminated by society;

Therefore there is a possibility for that which is timeless, eternal, to come into being. This whole process is meditation.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life


Disciplines, renunciations, detachments, rituals, the practice of virtue, all these, however noble, are the process of thought, and thought can only work toward an end, toward an achievement, which is ever the known.

Achievement is security, the self-protective certainty of the known. To seek security in that which is nameless is to deny it. The security that may be found is only in the projection of the past, of the known.

For this reason, the mind must be entirely and deeply silent; but this silence cannot be purchased through sacrifice, sublimation, or suppression. This silence comes when the mind is no longer seeking, no longer caught in the process of becoming. This silence is not cumulative, it may not be built up through practice.

This silence comes when the mind is no longer seeking, no longer caught in the process of becoming. This silence is not cumulative, it may not be built up through practice.

This silence must be as unknown to the mind as the timeless, for if the mind experiences the silence, then there is the experiencer who is the result of past experiences, who is cognizant of a past silence, and what is experienced by the experiencer is merely a self-projected repetition. The mind can never experience the new, and so the mind must be utterly still.

The mind can never experience the new, and so the mind must be utterly still.

The mind can be still only when it is not experiencing, that is, when it is not terming or naming, recording or storing up in memory. This naming and recording is a constant process of the different layers of consciousness, not merely of the upper mind. But, when the superficial mind is quiet, the deeper mind can offer up its intimations. When the whole consciousness is silent and tranquil, free from all becoming – which is spontaneity – then only does the immeasurable come into being.

Commentaries on Living, Series I


That silence which is not the silence of the ending of noise is only a small beginning. It is like going through a small hole to an enormous, wide, expansive ocean, to an immeasurable, timeless state. But this you cannot understand verbally unless you have understood the whole structure of consciousness and the meaning of pleasure, sorrow and despair, and the brain cells themselves have become quiet. Then perhaps you may come upon that mystery which nobody can reveal to you and nothing can destroy.

…the brain cells themselves have become quiet. Then perhaps you may come upon that mystery which nobody can reveal to you and nothing can destroy.

Freedom from the Known


Is silence to be cultivated, carefully nurtured and strengthened? And who is the cultivator? Is he different from the totality of your being? Is there silence, a still mind, when one desire dominates all others, or when it sets up resistance against them? Is there silence when the mind is disciplined, shaped, controlled? Does not all this imply a censor, a so-called higher self who controls judges, chooses?

Is there silence when the mind is disciplined, shaped, controlled? Does not all this imply a censor, a so-called higher self who controls judges, chooses?

And is there such an entity? If there is, is he not the product of thought? Thought dividing itself as the high and the low, the permanent and the impermanent, is still the outcome of the past, of tradition, of time. In this division lies its own security.

Thought or desire now seeks safety in silence, and so it asks for a method or a system which offers what it wants. In place of worldly things it now craves the pleasure of silence, so it breeds conflict between what is and what should be. There is no silence where there is conflict, repression, resistance.

Q: Should one not seek silence?

K: There can be no silence as long as there is a seeker. There is the silence of a still mind only when there is no seeker, when there is no desire.

Q: Should one not seek silence?

K: There can be no silence as long as there is a seeker. There is the silence of a still mind only when there is no seeker, when there is no desire. Without replying, put this question to yourself: Can the whole of your being be silent? Can the totality of the mind, the conscious as well as the unconscious, be still?

Commentaries On Living Series II Chapter 50 


The mind is silent only with the abundance of energy, when there is that attention in which all contradiction, the pulling of desire in different directions, has ceased. The struggle of desire to be silent does not make for silence. Silence is not to be bought through any form of compulsion; it is not the reward of suppression or even sublimation.

The struggle of desire to be silent does not make for silence. Silence is not to be bought through any form of compulsion; it is not the reward of suppression or even sublimation.

But the mind that is not silent is never free; and it is only to the silent mind that the heavens are opened. The bliss which the mind seeks is not found through its seeking, nor does it lie in faith. Only the silent mind can receive that blessing which is not of church or belief.

But the mind that is not silent is never free; and it is only to the silent mind that the heavens are opened. The bliss which the mind seeks is not found through its seeking, nor does it lie in faith. Only the silent mind can receive that blessing which is not of church or belief.

For the mind to be silent, all its contradictory corners must come together and be fused in the flame of understanding. The silent mind is not a reflective mind. To reflect, there must be the watcher and the watched, the experiencer heavy with the past.

The silent mind is not a reflective mind. To reflect, there must be the watcher and the watched, the experiencer heavy with the past.

In the silent mind there is no centre from which to become, to be, or to think. All desire is contradiction, for every centre of desire is opposed to another centre. The silence of the total mind is meditation.

Commentaries On Living, Series III, Chapter 51

The silence of the total mind is meditation.


When you watch attentively, with diligence, there is nothing to learn; there is only that vast space, silence and emptiness, which is all-consuming energy.

Krishnamurti to Himself

Q: I never get it when you say ‘be still’

Question: Tom, I never get it when you say ‘be still’. In my experience there is a contradiction between ‘Allow things to be as they are: No need to suppress or control.’ and ‘disengaging from thoughts’ because when I cease controlling, my mind just wonders so much. I definitely won’t detach from my thoughts by relaxing or even by any other means.

Tom: Yes, good point. When you set aside time to practice this you will naturally stumble upon that balance between not controlling/allowing and yet not engaging in thoughts. The secret is to practice again and again.

Q: So the technique is to be aware of thoughts but not get engaged? Then when you get caught up in thoughts, just return to watching them?

Tom: Yes. But no need to watch the thoughts… See here for more: How to meditate for spiritual enlightenment

The Natural Path to the Natural State

Lake calm new zealand meditation nonduality

Through the mind being increasingly more still, all is revealed, naturally and directly, non-verbally and non-conceptually, beyond any set of words or stock-phrases.

We don’t need to wrestle with ideas and questions such as:
– Is there a separate self?
– Is the world an illusion?
– Is everything really me?
– Do I survive after death?
– Am I really not the body?
– Is there free will?
– Are all these teachings actually just ramblings of self-deluded people? (It’s not impossible!)

All of the above is just ego-play, the mind perpetuating itself.

Through being still, as the thoughts lessen and lessen, the distorting veil of the ego lessens and its illusions are naturally seen through. Insight pours in all by itself, insight simply being the recognition of illusion for what it is, and the falling away of illusion.

All practices eventually take us to this stillness, so do what you need to do to be still. Often uplifting, blissfull, loving, positive and invigotating practices and techniques are needed first to root out negative tendencies (tamasic vasanas), and soothing calming practices are needed to calm passionate activated energies (rajasic vasanas) prior to allowing yourself to be still. Do what you need to do to allow stillness into your life.

Any teachings that have given you lasting benefit just bring you to this stillness, even if just momentarily. Through repeated prolongued immersion in stillness, the tendency to identify with the body-mind reduces then, after much time, eventually disappears, and with that the belief in the solidity of the world and other people also disappears, as does the notion of subject-object and time. This just happens by itself.

No need to take my word for it. Just be still and find out for yourself. Let go of belief in the ‘me’, the body, the world, the future, the past, etc, allow all thoughts to gently settle down and let go of all thinking. No need to push anything away or supress anything, just allow yourself (the ego-mind) to die…all will naturally work itself out.

Of course you will not find discover anything new or realise anything: the ego-illusion, the centre that is seeking – that will simply end. This is not about gaining new special knowledge or a new insight into reality, so if you are not getting special experiences/understanding or don’t appear to be ‘making progress’ through being still, don’t worry, that’s perfect. This is about the end of the ‘me’ that is seeking all of that.

Also, don’t underestimate the tenaciousness, endurance and pervasiveness of the ego. Even when thoughts do not appear to be consciously present, the ego is still fully there, dormant and in seed form, ready to sprout, just like in deep sleep. Therefore the stillness, even when thoughts appear not to be present, still needs to be be further deepened and the sadhana (spiritual practice) still needs to be continued until there is no individuality-duality left. A superficial absense of thoughts will not do. If this seems too difficult or daunting, don’t worry – just start, just start! What at first appears difficult or even impossible becomes easy with repeated attempts and practice. Take the example of a child learning to walk, ride a bike, swim or speak a language.

What remains when the ego/’me’ is gone can’t be put into words, and cannot be understood by the ego/mind. Thinking that this can be put into words such as ‘all is one’, or ‘Atman is Brahman’ or ‘there’s nobody here’ or any other set of words is seen to be false and just more toys for the ego. At the same time, it can be seen what these words may be trying (and failing) to point to.

So, no need to figure any of this out – that is more ego – instead be still. No need to cling to insights or words or knowledge or experiences – that too is more ego – instead be still.

Do not try to be still – that is just more activity, more ego. Seeing this, just allow everything to be as it is, not in order to get something, as that too is more ego.

Seeing the ego is always trying to gain, and intuitively non-verbally seeing this is just an unnecessary waste of energy, the ego can spontaneouly be let go of, for no reason, and not supressed, but just allowed, and in that the egoic drive has been removed, and this is being still. You need to try it and experiment to find this out for yourself.

Just like unplugging an electric fan, the blades of the ego-fan may appear to turn for a while, a good while, but no need to try to stop the blades rotating – that is more ego-effort and causes more issues – just be still and the ego-thoughts will naturally slow down when it is ready, just like the electric fan blades eventually stop by themselves when the power is taken away.

The other thing is don’t get stuck in a trance, a static feel-good state of mind. That is also another play of the mind looking for escape and pleasure. Stillness is not a trance, it’s much gentler than that – it’s the natural state. Try, experiment and practice and you will find the way, not by sitting on the sidelines thinking about it, but by actually doing it.

In summary: be still, all will be revealed.

Which means nothing will really be revealed, just the illusion/illusory seeker will die. The illusion-free state, the egoless state, the non-dual state, which of course is not a state, is the natural state.

If this is confusing, don’t worry. The words are never it. Instead just be still. Actually do it. Again and again forget everything, let go of your thoughts and thinking, bring yourself back to stillness, become nothing, let go of it all, be still.

This is the natural path to the natural state.

Wishing you peace.

False enlightenment

 

diamond

The mere understanding that ‘there is no person’ is not by itself enough. The mere understanding/seeing or knowledge ‘there is no separation’, ‘there is no doer’, ‘there is no separate self’ is by itself not enough.

For suffering to end, the self-referential habitual tendencies (vasanas) which originally arose from the belief in separation, these vasanas must also end. These vasanas are those addictive tendencies which aim to seek fulfillment in experiences and things (ie. in objects).

Seeing ‘there’s nobody here’ is seeing through the illusion of separation. However the functioning of self-referential addictive vasanas may continue due to the deeply established force of habit, and so the suffering resulting from these on the phenomenal level continues.

Once the illusion of (separate) self is seen as an illusion*, one must still remove the vasanas**. How? We are advised simply to ‘be still’.

…one must still remove the vasanas. How? We are advised simple to ‘be still’.

There is an apparent contradiction here, for if the separate self is seen through and seen to be false, then who or what is being still? Well, when the vasanas arise, it is really the sense of/belief in separate self that arises, out of habit, which means that although the individual person has intellectually been seen to be non-existent, it is actually the person who knows this. The person is the ignorance, which means that the ignorance has not been fully rooted out. ie. ignorance is still present.

So, insight (into no-self) having been attained (in the mind), now we are advised to be still in order to purify our minds of the vasanas. Shankara famously wrote: vasana kshaya moksham, which means ‘destruction of the vasanas is Moksha (liberation).’

Ask yourself:

-Can the ego make the ego still?
-Can thought still thought?
-Can we become effortless through effort?

The answer is no. Knowing this, be still.

Allow what comes to come, allow what goes to go. See there is nobody here. As the vasanas/ego/sense of ‘me’ arise, allow them to fall again.

Be still.

Note that being still is not doing something. It is not trying hard to be still – that is just more effort. Rather ‘be still’ means not adding to this, or rather to stop seeking and grasping, letting things be as they are, no longer looking for fulfillment in objects.

Being still is not doing something

The above reasoning and this last sadhana (spiritual practice) of stillness is beautifully expressed in the classic Advaita text Advaita Bodha Deepika, which was recommended by Ramana Maharshi as a manual for Advaita. The text takes the seeker through all aspects of the path. see here for a short excerpt:

The Ultimate means to liberation

Similarly in Buddhism and Zen we see the same teachings. See here for an example:

Zen: The sure way to enlightenment

*traditionally the Vedanta path is threefold. Firstly the teachings are heard (sravana), then they are comtemplated upon (manana) and their truth is realised/ignorance is removed. Then lastly the vasanas or habitual tendencies which originally arose due to ignorance are purified (nididhyasana).

**Many people stop after manana, once the truth has been understood and realised (in the intellect). The scriptures warn us that whilst this realisation can bring great peace and relief, and can be mistaken for full realisation/enlightenment, this is not the end of the journey, for the belief in a jiva/limited entity is still intact. Even without trusting the scriptures, by simply being aware of and open to what is happening, it can be seen that unless the addictive self-referential vasanas are allowed to arise in stillness, then without being taken up and acted on, allowed to then dissolve and die, the self-created suffering and self-centred (potentially destructive) behaviours on the phenomenal experiential level continue. Being still is simply a natural way of allowing the ignorance-based conditioning to naturally arise and fall away of its own accord.